Posts Tagged ‘0% interest rates’

THE MYTH OF THE GREAT BOND “BUBBLE”

THE MYTH OF THE GREAT BOND “BUBBLE”

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

AMESBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: A bubble floats past as revellers watch as the midsummer sun rises just after dawn over the megalithic monument of Stonehenge on June 21, 2010 on Salisbury Plain, England. Thousands of revellers gathered at the 5,000 year old stone circle to see the sunrise on the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

There is increasing chatter of the great “bond bubble” as U.S. Treasury bonds surge ever higher and deflation fears rise.  This is just one more myth that has persisted in recent years (decades really) due to mass misconception of the way the bond market actually operates and this propensity to label everything as a “bubble”.

Before we dive into the real meat of the argument it’s important that we define what a market “bubble” is.  A “bubble” occurs when market forces combine to generate a highly unstable position.  This results in the system entering an extreme disequilibrium and ultimately failure.  The causes of this “bubble” (or extreme disequilibrium) can be many – though primarily psychological any number of exogenous factors can contribute to the instability of the system (government policy for example).  The psychological aspect of a bubble is well explained by analysts at BNP Paribas:

“When interacting agents are playing in a hierarchical network structure very specific emerging patterns arise.  Let us clarify this with an example. After a concert the audience expresses its appreciation with applause. In the beginning, everybody is handclapping according to their own rhythm. The sound is like random noise. There is no imminence of collective behavior. This can be compared to financial markets operating in a steady-state where prices follow a random walk. All of a sudden something curious happens. All randomness disappears; the audience organizes itself in a synchronized regular beat, each pair of hands is clapping in unison. There is no master of ceremony at play. This collective behaviour emanates endogenously. It is a pattern arising from the underlying interactions. This can be compared to a crash. There is a steady build-up of tension in the system (like with an earthquake or a sand pile) and without any exogenous trigger a massive failure of the system occurs. There is no need for big news events for a crash to happen.

Financial markets can be classified as open, non-linear and complex systems. They also exhibit emanating patterns as a result of which the “invisible hand” can be very shaky.  More then 40 years ago Benoit Mandelbrot described the fractal structure of cotton prices and the emanating properties of fat tails and volatility clustering and Hyman Minsky proposed a theory for endogenous speculative bubble formation.


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